50 Walks and Hikes in Banff National Park: Sulphur Mountain
By : Brian Patton and Bart Robinson1st edition
6.5 x 4.5 inches
- Tunnel Mountain
- Sulphur Mountain
- Johnston Canyon
- Sunshine Meadows
- Bourgeau Lake
- Lake Louise Shoreline
- Lake Agnes
- Larch Valley
- Parker Ridge
LENGTH: 5.5 km (3.4 mi) one way
ELEVATION GAIN: 700 m (2,300 ft)
WALKING TIME: 2 to 3 hours one way
STARTING POINT: Upper Hot Springs parking lot, 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from downtown Banff along Mountain Ave.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME: Sulphur hot springs at the base of the mountain
Tens of thousands of people ride the Banff Gondola to the 2,281-metre-high (7,486-foot) summit of Sulphur Mountain each summer to enjoy one of the most famous views in Canada—a 360-degree panorama encompassing the town of Banff, the Banff Springs Hotel, and surrounding mountains. It is also possible to walk up the mountain, with the option of purchasing a one-way gondola ticket and returning to the valley floor in just eight minutes.
The view looking west from the summit of Sulphur Mountain.
While the trail gains 700 metres (2,300 feet) of elevation, 28 switchbacks keep the grade reasonable. The track is wide as it climbs from the Upper Hot Springs parking lot and begins a somewhat-tedious ascent of the mountain. Though the climb is forested throughout, views over the town and valley do open briefly as you pass just north of a waterfall on the mountain’s east slope. The grade steepens as the trail nears the summit and begins switchbacking beneath the gondola line. A few scattered alpine larch in the dense forest herald the summit ridge and the upper gondola terminal with its restaurants and much-needed refreshment kiosk.
From the upper gondola terminal, you can follow a boardwalk leading 600 metres (0.4 miles) to the summit of Sanson Peak, where there is a stone weather observatory built in 1903. The peak is named for park meteorologist Norman Sanson, who hiked up the mountain over 1,000 times to take readings at this observatory.
OPTIONS: The Banff Gondola (403/762-2523, www.banffgondola.com whisks visitors to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, from where you can admire the view, stroll along the boardwalk, and enjoy a meal at one of three eateries.
This text is from 50 Walks and Hikes in Banff National Park.